Does Having High Blood Pressure Mean I'm Stressed?

Nearly half of American adults suffer from hypertension. However, are that many Americans suffering from chronic stress? 

Stress can cause elevated blood pressure, but only in the short term. There are two types of hypertension: primary and secondary.

Primary hypertension doesn’t have a known cause, while secondary hypertension can be caused by underlying conditions such as kidney disease or metabolic syndrome. 

High blood pressure is 140/90mmHg or higher. It damages blood vessels throughout the body, and if left untreated, it can lead to heart attack and stroke. 

From our experts at Bethel Family Medicine, here’s everything you need to know about high blood pressure. 

The link between high blood pressure and stress 

When you’re stressed out, your body secretes cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones tell your heart to pump blood faster, causing your blood pressure to rise temporarily. Stress can cause high blood pressure in the short term, but it’s unlikely to cause hypertension.

However, stress can cause hypertension indirectly. Stress can increase the chance of engaging in unhealthy coping mechanisms such as eating junk food regularly, drinking alcohol, and smoking cigarettes, all of which can contribute to elevated blood sugar levels. 

Other elevated blood pressure causes 

Risk factors for developing blood pressure include the following:

Primary hypertension is by far the most common type of hypertension. Although researchers aren’t certain about the cause of primary hypertension, they suspect that a combination of a poor diet, lack of sleep, and a sedentary lifestyle may contribute to the development of the condition.

Studies indicate that hunter-gatherers and horticulturists have lower rates of hypertension and heart disease despite living in high-stress environments. This could indicate that lifestyle factors such as the modern diet and exposure to environmental pollutants may be contributing to rising rates of hypertension around the world. 

Learn more about managing your hypertension 

If you suspect that stress is causing your elevated blood pressure levels, seek help from a therapist to treat the root cause of your issue. Some studies indicate that mindfulness meditation may also help with stress management. 

However, stress alone rarely causes hypertension. Our specialists at Bethel Family Medicine can help you identify the root cause of your elevated blood pressure and manage it through a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. 

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